Drawn to a primitive urge
January 12, 2008
Quoted from the article:
Onians is one of more than 300 international experts descending on Melbourne this week for what is considered the “olympics” of the art historians’ world. Although another sporting event ” the Australian Open ” will probably steal the limelight, the fact that Melbourne is playing host to the 32nd Congress of the International Committee of the History of Art is a coup not to be underestimated.
The congress, which starts tomorrow, has only been held once before outside Europe ” in Montreal, in 2004. In fact, organiser Jaynie Anderson, head of fine arts at the University of Melbourne, faced some resistance to her bid to bring the conference Down Under. To some, Australia seemed both geographically and culturally remote ” and not steeped enough in the classical arts ” a questionable place, in short, to bring a congress with such a prestigious history, first held in Vienna in 1873.
But Anderson had friends in high places ” including former congress chairman Professor Ronald de Leeuw, director of the Rijksmuseum, who could vouch for Melbourne’s professionalism and dedication to art. After all, de Leeuw had collaborated with the National Gallery of Victoria to bring the outstandingly popular Dutch Masters exhibition to Melbourne three years ago.
The congress ” subtitled Conflict, Migration and Convergence ” brings together 650 art historians from 47 countries, including Michael Brand, director of the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, Philippe Peltier from Paris’ Musee du Quai Branly, Professor Homi Bhabha from the University of Harvard, and Neil McGregor, director of the British Museum, best known for standing firm against requests from the Greek Government for the return of the Elgin Marbles.
The repatriation of art objects will be one of the key topics for discussion at the six-day conference, along with art and migration, art and war, art collecting and dealing across cultures, and the cultural collisions that have given rise to Australia’s buoyant Aboriginal art market.